With one all-star (James Neal) exiting the Pittsburgh lineup, all they did was replace him with the best player in the game as Sidney Crosby made his return to the lineup after nearly a month on the DL with a broken jaw.
In the end, the Islanders kept it close and Marc-Andre Fleury did what Marc-Andre Fleury does and handed the Islanders a win that many never expected would happen this playoff series at all.
Pittsburgh jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead as first Evgeni Malkin and then Crosby scored, and it looked like the rout was on. However, the Islanders got one back on the power play as Matt Moulson‘s cross-crease pass on the power play was knocked in by Pittsburgh’s Paul Martin. Fair enough, but Crosby restored the 2 goal lead with his 2nd of the game just 18 seconds later as he picked up a rebound at the side of the net and fired it home. Pittsburgh ended the first period up 3-1 and seemingly in control.
But someone forgot to tell the Islanders (and Fleury) that. Colin MacDonald scored on a wraparound, tucking the backhand home from below the goal line. Then before the period was out, Matt Martin had tied the game after Fleury misplayed a shot off the back boards and Matt Martin shoveled home the puck for his first career playoff goal. The Islanders went into the third with some hope and the score knotted at 3 apiece.
The only goal of the third period, and the winning goal was shades of last spring’s playoff as Fleury again misplayed a shot of the back-boards and this time didn’t need the help of an Islander to put it past him, because he did the honors himself, looking like a fish out of water and knocking it into his own net. Kyle Okposo got credit for the goal, and the doubting will begin in Pittsburgh as to whether or not Fleury has the ability to get the job done in the playoffs once again.
SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
1. Marc-Andre Fleury (for the Islanders)
2. Sidney Crosby
3. Matt Moulson
Game 3 goes on Sunday at noon back in Long Island.
OTHER GAMES OF THE NIGHT
San Jose scores late to tie and then wins in OT to lead Canucks 2-0